ROMANTIC COMEDY

‘Baggage Claim’ carries too much rom-com baggage | 2 stars

Updated: 2013-09-25T19:44:49Z

By G. ALLEN JOHNSON

San Francisco Chronicle

Rated PG-13 | Time: 1:33

Coffee, tea or he?

That’s the problem flight attendant Montana Moore (Paula Patton) faces when she is determined to show up at her sister’s wedding in 30 days with a fiance. You see, her mom (on marriage No. 5) says a girl becomes a lady only if she’s married before age 30 (Montana’s almost there) and a woman only after she has two children.

So Montana has some catching up to do in writer-director David E. Talbert’s “Baggage Claim,” a romantic comedy so light and brainless you almost expect it to float away.

It doesn’t because it is anchored by a winning, indefatigable performance by Patton, who finds the soft center of a character that, in other hands, might be seen as alternately ditzy and manipulative.

Based in the Washington, D.C., area, Montana happens to live across the hall from her best friend in high school, William, a handsome hunk who seems to have the perfect relationship with live-in girlfriend Taylor (a spunky Christina Milian).

Montana enlists the help of her best friends, fellow flight attendants Gail (Jill Scott) and the stereotypically gay Sam (Adam Brody). Their plan: track all of Montana’s ex-boyfriends through their plane ticket reservations and see if any have grown into the One.

If it seems like a stupid idea, well, it is. This is one of those romantic comedies that rely on wild coincidences and misunderstandings that could be cleared up with a simple cellphone call, but then, that wouldn’t help the “plot” along.

This is also one of those films where everyone’s last name means something, perhaps the worst cliche of writing. Montana Moore, wants, uh, more for her life, get it? Her best friend is Gail Best. Would it be a spoiler alert to say that her friend across the hall is William Wright?

Not in a candy-colored film that stubbornly pursues a policy of predictability.

Patton, though, keeps things interesting. She’s a trouper, attacking every rom-com cliche with enthusiasm and charm as she goes on one bad date after another (Taye Diggs, Djimon Hounsou, others).

I’ll pass on the coffee and the tea.

| G. Allen Johnson, San Francisco Chronicle

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